September 4, 2023 by Klaus Crow
You might already know a bunch of chords. You can play a good number of songs and you’re doing just fine. You don’t want to burden yourself any more than necessary.
Why would you need to continue to learn and memorize new chords? You can look them up right?
Right and wrong!
When you are writing or creating and your mind doesn’t have that big beautiful chord vocabulary, your imagination can’t benefit from all this creativity that is going on inside your head and you’re holding back from your true potential. You’ve got the creativity, but you’re missing the input.
Also when you’re playing guitar in a band you want to feel confident right? You want to be a pro, so act like a pro. Study and learn as much as you can. Be in control of your game. It builds confidence and increases the fun.
Let’s work on it!
Here are the 10 reasons to keep learning new chords and how to go about it.
10 Solid Reasons to Learn New Chords
Learn new chords to:
1 – benefit your creative imagination.
Expanding your chord vocabulary will lead to more chord choices, more variety, more ways to go about a song which is awesome for playing, improvisation and songwriting.
2 – expand your visualization on the fretboard.
Learning chords in different positions and voicings creates a road map for the guitar neck around which you can build and extend your playing.
3 – develop and broaden your insight.
You’ll learn to understand how everything (chords, progressions, licks, scales and arpeggios) works together as a whole. Knowing chords and the theory behind chords is one of the most valuable tools for a guitar player.
4 – increase the fun in your playing.
There are so many beautiful chords to learn there’s no stopping. I still discover new sounds and chord tricks that make me fall in love with the guitar over and over again.
5 – improve your left hand dexterity.
Your left hand technique will improve significally. The more chords you can play, the easier it gets to learn a new chord and make fast chord transitions.
6 – build confidence in your playing.
Applied knowledge is power. Having a big chord vocabulary will make you more bold in your rhythm playing and gives you the courage to play with other musicians. It feels good to own that knowledge and translate it to the guitar anyway you want.
7 – create overall flexibility
The more chords you know, the more you can choose between different chord voices that suit your taste or that match the sound of the song you want to learn. Sus chords, 7th chords, add9 chords and chord extensions played in different positions also sound and feel different. More choice, more flexibility.
8 – build your infrastructure.
Chords are your building blocks. Without chords you can’t play rhythm guitar and without rhythm guitar there’s not much use in playing solo. Learning chords is building the groundwork for everything else that is to come. Without it you’re lost.
9 – add more color
Bring more color and flavor to your song with all those different sounds and create the mood and atmosphere you want to convey.
10 – feel free and liberated.
When you have a acquired big chord vocabulary you don’t have to look up and learn every new chord that you come across in a new song. It makes it much easier and less time consuming. If you don’t know the words you can’t speek freely. Having that vocabulary means freedom.
HOW TO DO IT
1 – Create a habit
Make a commitment to yourself. Practice daily or every other day. Set a time to practice and choose a quiet place where you can study and build that impressive chord vocabulary. Set the alarm on your cellphone to remind yourself. Tell people in your environment that you need some private time and don’t want to be disturbed during practice. You want to improve don’t you? Now is the time.
2 – Practice thoroughly
Pick the six strings one by one to make sure your chord sounds clean and clear all the way through. With each session practice new chords and the ones you’ve learned before. Make sure you also memorize the chord names. During practice speak out the name of each chord out loud.
3 – Train your muscle memory
Play the chord and strum it once. Lift your fingers off the strings entirely and put them back on (Try to place your fingers in the shape of the chord and try to move all your fingers simultaneously when you reach for the strings). Take them off again… and put them back on. Practice this a couple of times for each chord.
4 – Incorporate
It’s mandatory that you incorporate your new learned chord in a song and apply it regularly to your playing to make it part of your long term memory. Use it in a new song, as part of your songwriting or for improvisation. Repetition and application is the key to memorization.
5 – Create interest
Study chord theory. If you know the theory behind chords and chord progressions, learn how and where to apply a chord, you automatically get more passionate and excited to build and expand your chord vocabulary. Learning chords becomes a delight.
Exceed your limits!